The sound of helicopter rotor blades was music to the ears of badly injured walker David Briese recently.
David was in a group enjoying a picturesque walk in a remote area on the far side of Mt Bogong, Victoria’s highest mountain, in the Alpine National Park. The four day circuit was to see them climb to the summit of Mt Bogong, explore the surrounding ridges, spurs and valleys, then rejoin the track to return via Mountain Creek.
But a simple stumble left David with two completely broken ankle bones more than a day’s walk away from medical treatment.
After a great day that had included some hard climbing, David’s world ‘went pear-shaped’ when the toe of his boot dragged, causing his leg to roll forward on the steep path, and his whole weight to come down on his twisting ankle. The nauseating sound of bones breaking was quickly followed by excruciating pain that rolled over him, collapsing him to the path.
Cursing himself for his stupidity, David was on the point of the track at the bottom of a deep ravine and there was no way he could walk out. But this was his lucky day, as one of the group had been smart enough to take a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) with them, which was activated to summons help once the severity of David’s break was realised.
The sound of the rescue helicopter was soon heard through the valley, homing in on the regular beep of the PLB indicating David’s exact location. Unable to land on the steep terrain where David had fallen, the paramedic had to be winched 60m down to his patient. With his leg splinted, and calming shots of morphine and Maxalon cursing through his veins to dull the pain, David was winched out and flown to Albury Hospital, for surgery to pin the tibia and screw the fibula in his double fractured limb.
David says that without the PLB he would have been in dire straits, as he definitely could not have walked out. He has since bought his own PLB, and become an advocate for all walkers who venture into remote areas to carry a PLB for safety.
As he says, ‘All it takes is one slip …..’
David contacted us to encourage everyone who travels into remote areas to carry a PLB. It is excellent advice, please follow it.
You can read David’s fascinating account of his walk and rescue, accompanied by a fabulous set of photographs of that beautiful walk, on his website Walking the High Country.
Do you always carry a PLB?
Have you ever had to set one off?
We would love to hear your story and ideas, leave a reply below.
Addendum from Georgie: The Australian Maritime Safety Authority have a fabulous web site with lots of very useful information about 406MHz Distress Beacons and GPSs. Take a minute to check it out on www.amsa.gov.au/beacons. Good info if you are looking to buy a unit, a FAQ brochure, and free registration to enable an even quicker response if you ever have need to set yours off. Well worth a look. Regards, Georgie.